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Coy Putin laughs off remarriage question in annual phone-in

AFPAFP 14/04/2016 Mikhail Klimentyev

Russian President Vladimir Putin answers questions during his annual televised phone-in with the nation in Moscow on April 14, 2016 © Provided by AFP Russian President Vladimir Putin answers questions during his annual televised phone-in with the nation in Moscow on April 14, 2016 President Vladimir Putin on Thursday laughed off a question about Russia's next first lady during his annual phone-in with the nation, but hinted that "maybe" he will remarry one day.

In 2013, the Russian strongman and his wife Lyudmila, his partner of nearly 30 years with whom he has two daughters, stunned Russia by announcing their divorce on television after attending a ballet performance at the Kremlin.

Earlier this year, Russian media suggested that Putin's former wife had found happiness again, marrying a 37-year-old man and taking his last name.

Putin's love life has always been a virtual taboo in Russia's state-controlled media, although some reports have linked the president to former Olympic gymnast Alina Kabayeva, 32, even before his divorce.

During a highly choreographed annual televised call-in show, one curious female supporter asked the 63-year-old Putin when he was planning to introduce the country's next first lady to Russians.

Putin laughed off the question, saying he was afraid his marriage may affect the country's already wobbly foreign exchange rate or oil prices.

"Maybe one day I will be able to satisfy your curiosity," he said.

He also declared that elected officials should be judged by their deeds and that their personal life was not of "primary importance".

He said he was in touch with his former wife, joking that their relationship might have even improved once they went their separate ways.

"I know she's doing well," Putin said without specifying whether she had remarried.

"She's pleased with her life," Putin said.

"I am also pleased. I am doing very well too."

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